Recurring problem with mice
27 May 2006
A. Now that these mice are in your house we’ll call them house mice. Field mice or deer mice are the ones that, I hear, migrate into buildings and homes in the fall looking for a warm place with a food source. I don’t know if they voluntarily return to the field in the following spring but if they’ve found a good spot, why would they? Both types look identical to me.
As for preventative measures, it’s a bit late for you. However it’s nothing you did wrong except own a house in the woods. Mice can enter a structure through the tiniest of openings and riding herd on all the possible entry locations is nearly impossibl e. They can get through holes smaller than a dime or cracks in foundations larger than a quarter inch or they can fit under doors or through the openings where the air-conditioning lines enter the house from the outside unit or sump discharge pipe hole if they are not sealed tight. Garages are a mouse interstate.
Mice are night-owls. They’re active from late evening until early morning. If you actually see a mouse scurrying around during the day that’s a signal that you have an advanced population. It used to be an old saying that if you saw one mouse you had 2 0. I’ve no way of proving that but what I do know is they’re prolific breeders who will have 6 to 10 litters throughout a year and that builds family quick.
I’ve run across folks who are so gentle that if they don’t see the little fellas wish to leave them alone. A noble but foolish position to be sure. Mice are disease spreaders and the two most common health problems they can transmit to humans are respir atory hanta-virus from airborne contamination from disturbed dried droppings or salmonella food poisoning from preparing food on a kitchen counter that has been visited by mice who’ve left urine on the counter in their wake. You can only spot mouse urin e with a black light, so if you’ve got mice and you’ve seen droppings in the cabinets or under the sink then clean the food preparation areas well prior to starting a meal, even if you cleaned up the night before.
The approaches to mouse control break down to poison, spring traps, or the less violent box traps and glue traps. The popular D-con® is inexpensive and works over time-- about a week to get real effects. Be careful of this poison around children or pets. The good old fashioned spring traps work but you have to work them. They need to be placed properly and moved from time to time because our mouse friends are curious and will investigate anything new in their foraging area-- about 10 to 25 feet from th e nest depending upon food supply.
Glue traps are effective but some don’t like using them as they are squeamish about the mouse’s relatively slow demise once in the trap. I think the most humane are spring traps. Snap and it’s over.
Box traps look promising. It’s a rectangular box that a curious mouse enters unable to exit. These boxes can accumulate several mice at a setting. However, the directions say to retrieve the trap when occupied and “dispose” of the mice. I don’t know h ow the sensitive folks would go about doing that. Catch and release is a dumb course of action and for me not an option.
One mouse control strategy I didn’t see in the literature is a cat. When I was a boy we had a cat named “mouser” who Mom put in our summerhouse a week before we’d open it-- no mice.
You may not be able to one hundred percent exclude mice from your life but just control them. They've been on the planet longer than we have and will probably be here long after we are gone.